How To Repair Shoes And Boots Yourself

Fixing shoes at home is easier - and cheaper - than most people think. Our throw-away society could save a few bucks with these shoe repair tips.

When most people think of shoe repair, they think of a cobbler. Largely a dying art, the fixing of shoes for profit isn't the only repair method available, however. You can easily and quite affordably repair your shoes at home in many if not most cases.

Many people these days to the mistaken theory that shoes should be thrown out at the first sign of wear. While this is a good rule of thumb for athletic shoes, it simply doesn't always apply to casual or dress shoes, which tend to be easier to restore (and which are not required to hold up to the more rigorous demands set for athletic shoes). The following guidelines apply to casual and dress shoes in general.

First, you must determine the problem. If the shoe shows signs of a mechanical breakdown - if the shoe is completely losing its sole, for instance - then home repair may not be advisable. For a simple crack in the sole or foundation of a shoe, however, a wonderful product is available and highly recommended. "Shoe Goo," which is a kind of super-adhesive that is especially designed to stand up to the elements, available for only a few dollars, can seal cracks and splits in leather, rubber, and most other man-made materials that may be found in a shoe's composition.



What if the problem is more cosmetic? Scratches and scrapes in the top part of the shoe - known as the "upper" - can make dress shoes in particular look unwearable. Fixing these types of scratches is simple, however, and much less costly then buying a whole new pair of shoes. Surprisingly, even what appear to be very deep or damaging scratches can be fixed by the following steps.

To fix scratches in a shoe's upper, first determine the material. (A description of the material is normally printed inside the shoe, near the size.) Leather, especially leather with a waxy finish, is particularly responsive to something called "leather lotion." Available in different forms from many shoe stores, leather lotion helps to moisturize, and will prevent further cracking and scuffing. The non-colorized substance is worked in with a damp rag; after using the lotion, you can then apply traditional, color-specific shoes polish, normally available as a cream, to obscure even very deep scratches.

If the scratched upper is suede, there are several options. Many shoe companies now pre-treat suede with water repellency, but this doesn't always prevent the pigskin from scratching. A helpful tool for surface marks is a dry-cleaning bar, which is normally sold with a stiff-bristle brush. Use the dry cleaning bar - which is very similar in composition to a common eraser - to remove marks from suede. Then use the brush to bring the nap back up. Finishing with a deep-cleaning suede spray or water repellent, treat the seams and the inside of the suede shoe for maximum protection. Total cost of the entire treatment: about eight bucks.

Man-made uppers respond best to shining. Accomplish this by seeking out products designed for this purpose; often contained in wipes that can be disposed of, shining compounds (sometimes called "quick wipes") are manufactured by companies like Totes and Hush Puppies, and are normally available for only a few dollars.

Have you ever had winter boots that leaked? If you have, you know the frustrated feeling of wet feet after shoveling snow, or walking in the rain. If your boots are leather, however, you can waterproof them yourself. First, treat the boots with a liberal amount of mink oil, a neutral-colored substance that not only softens the leather, but helps to make the boots water-resistant as well. Next, use a water repellency spray to treat the seams; this you will want to do about every three weeks or so. Finally, mist the inside of the boots with the spray - this surprisingly effective action will also help the footwear retain its new waterproof capabilities.

We've discussed minor basic shoe repair, as well as cosmetic quick-fixes. If your shoes are damaged in more serious (mechanical) ways, you may want consult a professional cobbler. Remember, wearing shoes that are mechanically dysfunctional can have serious repercussions on the health of your legs, feet, and back, so always undergo home shoe repair with this in mind.

© High Speed Ventures 2011